Oregonians, Bicycle Haters

Over the years I have heard many complaints about bicyclists and bicycling, and many of these complaints correspond with the complainers’ demanding that bicyclists contribute tax dollars to the upkeep and maintenance of the roadways. Oregon has recently proposed legislation to turn this into a reality: a bicycle tax.

I am torn as to where to begin in describing how many things are wrong with this idea, but I think I would like to start with the fact that bicyclists and bicycles take up a mere fraction of the roadway, contribute absolutely nothing to the wear and tear of the roads, and are pollution free, resulting in zero impact on the environment.

Secondly, most of those who bicycle do so out of either personal financial necessity, a desire to stay healthy, a wish to reduce pollution, or some combination of these reasons. To tax an activity that is so universally beneficial to the individuals that participate as well as the community as a whole, would thereby discourage the activity, and make criminals out of countless innocent children who merely seek to joyride around the neighborhood. How would such a law be enforced? Should we pull an overworked and underpaid police force away from preventing actual crime in order to halt the evil bicyclists?

Those who complain about bicyclists have some legitimate arguments, stemming from their occasional disregard for traffic laws, moderate slow-downs in congested areas, and a lack of courtesy by a minority of bicyclists. I would remind the reader, however, that there are many existing laws governing the behavior of riders, and taxation will not make cyclists more likely to follow these laws. The complaint that bicyclists pay nothing to support the road and highway system is ridiculous. Most bicyclists are not purely bound to two wheels, but usually own and operate an automobile as well, for which they pay the normal fees for using on the road. Fees that go to building and maintaining bicycle infrastructure. All of the time those motorists spend on their bikes instead of in their cars is time those cars don’t spend on the road, tearing it up, increasing congestion, and causing pollution. The bicycle is offsetting the car a man isn’t driving, while he has paid for the right to do so.

In my opinion, the state of Oregon has realized that in tough times many more people are turning to alternate forms of transportation to offset the high costs of automobile travel, and they might fill their unconscionably unbalanced budget from the pockets of the frugal. Sidewalks also take up a considerable amount of space and money, and removal of such could easily save the state millions a year on construction and upkeep. Perhaps a Walking Tax would force those non-contributing walkers to pay their fair share. Damn those self-ambulating bastards for ruining perfectly good road space for the rest of us.